FAYETTEVILLE — Bret Bielema had a message Monday for anyone up in arms about comments he made during a recent Razorback Club event.
Bielema, using his Twitter feed, responded to the growing buzz regarding his comments about Alabama and coach Nick Saban’s record at Michigan State during the Saline County Razorback Club fish fry last Wednesday. Bielema, according to Hootens.com, said Saban’s record in the Big Ten was “no comparison” to his own.
Bielema responded via Twitter, calling it a “joke” Monday.
“Things to chill out about today: 1- I’m only driving my car today 2- Alabama quotes were a joke to a question from a fan at pep rally. #wow,” Bielema said via Twitter.
The first point appears to be in reference to Monday’s one-year anniversary of former coach Bobby Petrino’s motorcycle accident, which led to Petrino’s firing a few days later. Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long hired Bielema on Dec. 4 after the Razorbacks went 4-8 under coach John L. Smith in 2012.
Bielema has not been shy about his intentions with the Razorbacks since.
Bielema said during his introductory press conference he wanted to lead the Razorbacks to an SEC title, something it has never accomplished. He also fired up fans in Bud Walton Arena during a men’s basketball game this winter, telling the crowd: “We didn’t come here to play in the SEC, we came here to win the SEC.”
Bielema emphasized the point again when asked about competing against Alabama in the SEC’s Western Division during the Saline County Razorback Club event.
“The reason the SEC is talked about all the time is one team, because of their dominance,” Bielema told the club, according to Hootens.com. “But I didn’t come here to play Alabama. I came here to beat Alabama.
“You can take Saban’s record when he was at Michigan State and when he was a coach in the Big Ten and put it against mine, and he can’t compare.”
Bielema did enjoy more success than Saban as a Big Ten coach. He went 68-24 with three Rose Bowl appearances from 2006-2012. Saban was 34-24-1 in five years (1995-99) with the Spartans.
Saban, of course, has become the most successful coach in college football in leading Alabama to three national titles the past four seasons. He also won a national championship at LSU and has a career coaching record of 154-55-1.
Saban was asked about Bielema’s comments by the media in Alabama on Monday and said, “I really don’t have any reaction to it.”
“I’m really concerned about what we do here with our players, how we try to get the people in our organization to play at a high standard,” Saban said according to Al.com. “I really don’t defend anything I ever did any place we’ve ever been. Everybody has different situations they’re in, everybody inherits different situations that they’re in, you do the best you can to try to build a good program in those situations.”
Bielema, whose team will be back on the field for their seventh spring practice session today, was not available for further comment Monday. But he isn’t the first coach to create a stir with comments made about Saban this year.
Vanderbilt coach James Franklin referred to Saban as “Nicky Satan” during a speaking engagement earlier this winter. Franklin later called the comment a joke and apologized to Saban, according to multiple reports.
Bielema and the Razorbacks will play at Alabama on Oct. 19. Arkansas has lost six straight games to the Crimson Tide and hasn’t won in Tuscaloosa since 2003.